Over 60 representatives of public service media, international organisations, politicians and regulators have met in Tirana to discuss the best ways to help and support public service media in the Western Balkans.
Partners of the EU-funded ‘Technical Assistance to Public Service Media in the Western Balkans’ project came together to officially launch the project.
The meeting follows six-months of intensive work to outline the scope of the project and the areas for co-operation and focus.
Managers of the six national public service media organisations that will benefit from the project - RTVSH (Albania), BHRT (Bosnia & Herzegovina), RTK (Kosovo), MKRTV (FYR Macedonia), RTCG (Montenegro) and Radiotelevizija Srbije (Serbia) – signed a memorandum of understanding that paves the way for their cooperation.
All were agreed on the importance of independent, sustainable public service media to secure democracy and support civil society.
Launching the project, EBU Director General Noel Curran said: “It is more important than ever to protect the editorial and institutional independence of public service media.
“As a community, we can make a positive impact on media and, by association, democracy throughout the Western Balkans.”
The project is a collaboration between the European Federation of Journalists, Austrian public broadcaster ORF, the Balkan Investigative Reporting Network and the Office of the Eurovision News Exchange for South-East Europe.
It aims to strengthen the independence, accountability and programming output of public service broadcasters in the Western Balkans.
The EBU will be the lead partner in exploring optimal funding models for public service media, management reforms, audience research and the role of governance and supervisory councils.
It is an opportunity for all to learn from the experience of fellow EBU Members throughout the continent.
Speaking at the meeting, EBU Head of Member Relations, CEE, Radka Bethcheva said: “Independence is of utmost importance for the proper functioning of public service media.
“This project could help to improve the legal frameworks and their implementation, especially in regards to ensuring greater independence of supervisory councils' members and increasing their professionalization.”
The 1.5 million EUR project will run for the next two years.